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2022: The Year in Board Games and RPGs

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Editor’s note: If you’ve been directed here due to an errant link in the Jan. 12 Steampunk Digest e-newsletter, here’s the correct link to “The Year in Pictures.” We apologize for the mix-up.

In addition to video games, 2022 saw the release of a handful of steampunk-related board games and RPGs (roleplaying games). All of the following were initially funded on Kickstarter, either in 2021 or 2022, and are now available to the general public.

My Father’s Work

Renegade Game Studios shipped this board game after raising nearly $1 million in a 2021 Kickstarter campaign.

It’s designed for two to four players (ages 14+), who assume the roles of mad scientists in the Victorian era. They can take part in multiple gothic horror scenarios, each with more than 350 story events in a branching narrative. Estimated play time is three hours.

The package contains everything needed to play the game, including the board, rulebook, cards, miniatures, and other resources. It costs $125 in the U.S.

It’s not available through general retail channels, but you can order it from the Renegade website, where you can also get a free download of the rulebook. The game is also available as an app for the web, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire devices.

More info: Renegade Game Studios

Ironclads: Space Battles in the Victorian Aether

This tabletop board game is set in an alternate late-19th century timeline in which global powers engage in outer space battles using “mighty aether ships.” It’s designed for two or more players. Publisher Triple Ace Games crowdfunded the game in a Kickstarter campaign that ended in January 2022.

At present, the game is available with three factions: USA, the British Empire, and the German Empire. The publisher says it plans to offer other factions including Austro-Hungarian Empire, French Third Republic, Ottoman Empire, Russian Empire, and Scandinavian League.

Kickstarter backers received an all-digital downloadable version of the game, including PDFs of the rulebook and manuals along with 3D-printable files of miniatures. Physical versions are available from the publisher’s website.

Triple Ace Games also announced plans to offer a new campaign for Leagues of Adventure, a “pulp action” steampunk roleplaying game set in the late Victorian era. The campaign involves the disappearance of an aristocrat at Cambridge, leading to a plot that threatens the future of the British Empire. The RPG is based on the Ubiquity rules system.

More info: Triple Ace Games

Girl Genius RPG

Girl Genius RPG

This RPG from Steve Jackson Games (SJG) is based on the popular gaslamp fantasy comic series by Phil and Kaja Foglio. SJG published a pre-release PDF version in August 2021, followed by a successful Kickstarter campaign a few months later. The hardcover and softcover editions shipped in 2022 and are now available from the publisher’s Warehouse 23 online store, as well as Amazon and DriveThruRPG.

The sourcebook, illustrated by the Foglios, includes everything needed to play the game along with descriptions of the setting, history, and major characters in the series.

The RPG is compatible with the fourth edition of SJG’s GURPS (Generic Universal RolePlaying System), but the company says it’s self-contained and GURPS is not required to play.

More info: Steve Jackson Games | Warehouse 23 | DriveThruRPG

Iron Kingdoms: Requiem

Iron Kingdoms character

Privateer Press released a new version of its Iron Kingdoms RPG, updated for the D&D 5e rules system. The story combines steampunk and sword-and-sorcery elements. It’s set in the fictional continent of Immoren, populated by the five Iron Kingdoms of humanity along with elves, dwarves, and a hostile island nation known as Cryx.

In addition to the main sourcebook, the publisher has released several companion volumes, including Monsternomicon, which contains data on creatures that players can encounter in the game, and Legend of the Witchfire, an adventure that serves as an introduction to the Iron Kingdoms.

The publisher successfully crowdfunded the game in 2021, raising nearly $600,000.

More info: Privateer Press | Privateer Press Store | DriveThruRPG

Cloudrunner: Fate of the Skies

Cloudrunner airship

Writer and game designer Dylan Greene, who does business as Silver Lantern Games, released Cloudrunner: Fate of the Skies, a steampunk-themed RPG. The game is set in a steampunk fantasy world known as Escadus, in the aftermath of a war that has made the surface uninhabitable. Humans and other species now occupy the skies, and players take the roles of explorers in an airship.

The RPG, based on the Fate Condensed system, was inspired by video games such as Skies of Arcadia and Guns of Icarus.

Greene successfully crowdfunded the RPG in 2021.

More info: Silver Lantern Games | DriveThruRPG |

The Mad Lab

Matthew David released this new entry in his horror-themed Penny Blood Adventures RPG series after a successful Kickstarter campaign.

He describes it as a mash-up of Frankenstein’s monster and The Island of Doctor Moreau, taking place in a coastal town where a mad doctor’s creations have escaped to a small island. The game uses the D&D 5e rules system.

More info: Penny Blood Adventures

Vulcania - Beyond the Storm

Gear Games released this RPG following a successful Kickstarter campaign that ran in January and February of 2022. It serves as an expansion of the publisher’s Vulcania RPG, which is set in the northern hemisphere of a steampunk fantasy world.

The follow-up adds two volumes to the core rulebook, taking players to the world’s uncharted southern hemisphere.

The games are offered in English- and Italian-language versions. A PDF of the new expansion is available via DriveThruRPG. The publisher now expects to ship the physical rewards to Kickstarter backers in February.

More info: GearGames | DriveThruRPG

More year in review coverage: The Year in Pictures | Books and Comics | Kickstarters | Movies and TV | Music | Video Games

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